“At least make this pledge: At the day of exit, you are going to be fitter and have better relationships with your family and friends than on day one,” says BRW publisher Amanda Gome.Photo: Luis Ascui
There is an army of women on the march. They are leaving top corporate jobs, high salaries, city views, big brand name and all the trappings to run their own businesses. I know. I have done it. But when asked how to make a success of it? Well, my tips differ depending on gender.
I only realised this the other day when lunching with a highly successful female partner of a top four professional firm. This clever, vibrant, extremely fit woman knows she will soon be tapped on the shoulder and shunted off into a patronising program to help ease her into retirement. Retirement? She is only in her mid 40s. Her kids have just reached the age where she can throw herself into her career full time and work like a maniac for the next two decades.
So rather than wait for the tap, she jumped. She is accepting a much lower salary and taking a large chunk of equity to become CEO of the business started by a tech nerd who is smart enough to know his business has potential but not how to scale it.
So there she is in a tough, male dominated industry, doing the rounds and asking for advice. And with a nod to International Women’s Day, here are tips I would never bother giving a man.
Decide how big and profitable you want the company to be, then shut your eyes and triple it. Then do the same to your salary.
Only you can do everything quicker, better, smarter than everyone else (you think) which means you may micro-manage and drive everyone nuts. So have regular at home days to work on big strategic plans.
Give your plans big, important names that may or may not have any relevance (Project Nagasaki for example) and then present said-name plan to your chairman, board, advisory board and management team. Demand they be excited and on board. Always think how to manage up because you will manage down beautifully.
Learn to yell loudly, aggressively and unexpectedly “I am your boss!” That way men won’t unconsciously mistake you for their wife or their mother. Or not.
Swear a lot. It makes you seem tough and may mean you never have to yell that stupid stuff about being boss.
When men are sexist, tell blokey jokes or stick their hand down your shirt, ask them whether they have a daughter. They will look guilt stricken whether they do or not.
Get used to walking into rooms or sitting at board tables full of happy, chatty blokes who don’t really want to chat to you.
Talk a lot about money. Try and get ROI into every second sentence. Feel free to spice things up by throwing in the odd NPVs, P/E ratio or EPS.
Be bad. Befriend journalists, leak things you shouldn’t and learn to trade information. Mother’s group is a poor second to the biggest and most entertaining gossips: chairman, directors and managers of corporations.
Learn to boast. The media is desperate to quote powerful females in business who say really interesting things because there are so few of them. Saving you a small fortune in PR.
Seek out powerful women and men at the top of town. There is a small but fast growing female network that is passionate about helping other women succeed. And there is a growing circle of men who reckon it’s about time they shared the limelight.
Put yourself first. You won’t. But at least make this pledge: At the day of exit, you are going to be fitter and have better relationships with your family and friends than on day one. Have fun and celebrate anything with everyone any time. Life is just too short. And if it is not fun? Do something about it.
That goes for everyone.
Amanda Gome is the publisher of BRW and a successful media entrepreneur